Jeb Bush on Ticket Scalping
Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill into law Wednesday that removes penalties for ticket scalping....Under the measure, Florida's 60-year-old ticket scalping law, which forbids selling tickets for more than $1 above the face value, will be eliminated and in its place will be an open-market system that will allows ticket owners and Internet brokers to sell tickets at whatever price the buyer agrees to pay.The only economists I know who might be opposed to the repeal of anti-scalping laws are textbook authors. If all states followed suit, we would have to find new examples of ill-conceived government meddling with market mechanisms. For now, those of you lucky enough to have a copy of my favorite principles text can read the box on ticket-scalping in chapter 7.
Despite the view of most economists, the bill was controversial. This editorial from another Florida paper encouraged Bush to veto it, on the grounds that anti-scalping laws
protect the consuming public and event promoters from the economic harm done to them by persons who artificially corner the market for tickets to public events.Not a particularly compelling argument. But this line in the editorial caught my eye:
John Stoll, owner of a of West Palm Beach concert-promotion company, termed the bill "ridiculous" because it only "makes more money for scalpers."This leaves me with three related questions:
- Why would someone who makes a living putting on concerts object when ticket resellers get their products into the hands of buyers with the greatest willingness to pay?
- Why do concert promoters often price tickets well below the equilibrium price in the first place?
- If a concert promoter like Mr Stoll sold tickets with a "not for resale above face value" clause, should the government prohibit scalping as part of its duty to enforce private contracts?